Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Pylons plan leads to Cumbria road upgrade plea

Details of a path of power pylons to be fed by a planned new nuclear power plant have prompted a call to upgrade the main road linking Carlisle with west Cumbria.

Dr Brian Irving: ‘Preserving the area’s beauty’

National Grid has launched a consultation on the creation of a “power ring” which would take energy from a reactor that could be built at Sellafield into the grid. Part of that would run up the Solway coast, connecting into the large substation at Harker, near Carlisle.

The proposals have been welcomed by city MP John Stevenson, who believes they could be a catalyst for wider economic work.

But for the area to achieve its full potential, he believes connections between Carlisle and the west of the county need to be improved also.

On the multi-million pound pylons plan, Mr Stevenson said: “This project, combined with the nuclear new build, is of extra importance to the future economic success of Cumbria.

“There will be a huge amount of investment and potentially a great opportunity in terms of creating jobs and a new skills base for the county.”

But he added: “In order for this to happen there needs to be an upgrade to our own road infrastructure.

“My primary concern would be the improvement to the A595, which would improve links between the east and the west of the county.”

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said the authority has “consistently and strongly argued” for improvements to the A595, given its importance to job creation and prosperity.

“We will continue to lobby hard for further improvements to this vital transport link,” he added.

National Grid’s consultation went live on Wednesday.

The company had been asked to look at ways of connecting the proposed new nuclear reactor at Moorside, near Sellafield, into the national grid.

After several years of consultations the favoured options, with the company’s preferred choice, have finally been released to the public.

They would see pylons running north from Moorside, overland along the Cumbrian coastline to the south of Maryport, continuing inland to go past Aspatria and Wigton before connecting at a point on the existing network near Carlisle.

A spokesman for National Grid said: “Where possible, we propose to route a new connection along the path of existing Electricity North West power lines, which would be removed.”

Environmental groups are divided over plans.

Friends of the Lake District (FLD) has concerns over the environmental impact the proposed pylons will have.

“The line passes through the National Park and areas of outstanding beauty, which are really important areas in terms of preservation and people’s enjoyment,” said Dan Hunt, the FLD policy advisor, adding the group would prefer the National Grid to build the new lines offshore but understood that this was unlikely because of the higher cost of building offshore rather than inland.

Dr Brian Irving, manager of the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (SCAONB), is supportive of National Grid’s plans and said the company had been working closely with them throughout the development process.

“National Grid is doing everything it can to preserve the natural beauty of the area,” he said.

Events are taking place as part of the consultation.

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